By: Devon Hayes
With the recent and very heartbreaking death of a two year-old at an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan last Monday, July 8, the outcry of the public and the media has brought attention to changes needed in Ontario childcare. The Ministry, as well as Ontario Ombudsman André Marin, have promised to investigate the tragic death.
This is not the first death the province has had to deal with. Two year-old Jérémie Audette drowned in an Ottawa pool in 2010 at an unregulated home daycare. 14 month-old Duy-An Nguyen died at an unregulated Mississauga daycare in 2011.
Currently, there is only enough space for 20 per cent of children in licensed daycares. Others are on wait lists, are cared for by family members or are in unregulated care.
In licensed care, the caregiver and organization are required to meet certain standards: a limit of five children under the age of 10, police checks, food handling, fire inspections, safety certifications, and regular inspections. For unregulated daycares, there is no follow up to restriction on ages (unless a formal complaint is registered), no requirements in regards to qualifications, and no obligation to the Smoke Free Ontario Act or the Canada Food Guide. Many of them are unaware of the requirements.
Any and all caregivers’ main concern should be the well being of the children. The most effective way to go about this is to meet the standards of not only the government, but the parents as well.
Should all daycares in Ontario be licensed and the standards met, parents would feel more at ease leaving their children with the caregivers. All children would have equal access to a safe environment to grow and develop.